The Fight or Flight Response has been a natural human response since the beginning of our history. Understanding how we can reduce our stress and anxiety is just as important as knowing what it’s about and where it all began.
Fight or Flight Response
Here are a few of the things that automatically happen to your body when the stress response kicks in because of a fight or flight response.
- By Increasing your heart rate the fight or flight response will help to push more blood throughout your entire body to deliver oxygen, strength and fuel to organs and muscles.
- Your bronchial tubes in the lungs as well as your nostrils will enlarge. You begin to breath faster and you are allowing more oxygen to enter the body.
- Your blood vessels in the skin begin to constrict. This is to prevent potential bleeding should a serious wound occur. Your hair will stand on end to make us more sensitive to our environment. Digestion will slow.
- Fibrinogen occurs, it’s is a protein produced by the liver that’s released into the blood stream. This protein helps stop bleeding by helping blood clots to form.
- The fight or flight response will help to stimulates the release of glucose and fatty acids into your body, this is great for quick sources of energy that is stored in the liver and fat tissue. It will also help to stimulate the release of natural pain inhibitors so your focus can be on fighting or fleeing.
- Most of your senses will sharpen. Pupils dilate (open out) so we can see more clearly, even in darkness.
The fight or flight response is a natural reaction that is only meant to be triggered occasionally. However modern living keeps tripping it, making it overactive which is creating a major factor in causing stress, anxiety, depression and other related health problems.
This god-given response is built in to our genes, it is second nature in order for our species to survive. It was instinctive for prehistoric men, for example a saber-tooth tiger was closing in and upon first sight, man would flee the situation, or if cornered without escape will fight and require every muscle and body part to work together without having to think about it. It is that same second nature for animals in the wild in order to survive. A good example of the fight or flight response is a perched bird out in the wild. If the bird sees an owl overhead zoning in for the kill, the stress response is activated. The escape requires intense muscular effort, supported by all of the body’s systems. The sympathetic nervous system’s activation provides for these needs and the fight or flight response takes over.
How does the fight or flight response work?
When we experience extreme stress—whether from inner fear or exterior situations —a body response is activated, known as the “fight or flight” response. This response is what has kept the human species alive today. Initially founded by the great Harvard physiologist Wally Brother, this response is hard-wired into our brains and symbolizes an inherited wisdom designed to protect us from body damage. This response actually goes along to an area of our brain known as the hypothalamus gland, when stimulated, it initiates a series of nerve sensors and a chemical release that prepares our body for fleeing or combat, this is known as the fight or flight response.
1) Modifying our reality. How can we accomplish this? Lead a healthier lifestyle, exercise, end unhealthy relationships, quit that stressful job, stay away from a potentially dangerous situation. We can feel protected around friends and people who truly care for us, discovering better interaction abilities, personal time management, staying away from a harmful task.
2) Modifying our views of reality. This can be any technique whereby we seek to change our mental views, our perceptions, our philosophy and our emotional responses to the activities that happen to us. Some of these techniques include: relax in your surroundings and be content whatever and wherever your situation is. Accept a slight and temporary change in your comfort zone. People begin to stress out if they are out of their comfort zone, learn to adjust with a clear mind-set and deep breathing exercises. Don’t hold a grudge. Holding in that grudge is like a continual micro-bomb within your body. It is slowly going off and deteriorating you at a cellular level. Figuring out how not to take things so personally – even if their words were intended to hurt you…it’s OK, you’re better then that.
What can we do to reduce our stress and turn down the activity of our fight or flight response?
For hundreds of years, Buddhist monks have been conscious of deliberate breathing during meditation. For a quick 4 minute exercise, sit up in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on top of your knees. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, concentrating on your lungs as they expand fully in your chest. Taking those slow and deep breaths will help to oxygenate your blood, helps center your body, and clears your mind.
Get Better Sleep
Lack of sleep plays an important part in the amount of stress you have. This vicious cycle causes the brain and body to get out of whack and only gets worse and worse with time. Do whatever you can to get seven to eight hours of sleep. Turn the TV off earlier and manage your time. It may be the most effective stress buster on this list.
Meditation techniques: These techniques are focusing purely on physical relaxation. Meditation is one of the most popular techniques to achieve physical and mental relaxation. There are thousands of different types of meditation, and many can be learned on your own. Also, try this link to learn more about some of them – Different types of meditation
Progressive muscle relaxation: This is a method developed in the 1930s in which muscle groups are tightened and then relaxed in succession. This method is based upon the idea that mental relaxation will be a natural outcome of physical relaxation. Try this simple yet effective relaxation technique that you can accomplish within a twelve minute process.
Call a Friend
I have a saying – “Your friends are your future and they’re good for your health.” Whenever you are feeling stressed or depressed, get on the phone and call a friend and talk about your problems. Set aside an hour and meet them for lunch. Good relationships with friends and loved-ones are important to any healthy lifestyle. A reassuring voice, even for a minute, can put everything in perspective.
Autogenic training: Developed in the early 20th century, this technique is based upon passive concentration and awareness of body sensations. Focus your mind on a healthy and happy you. Notice your slight movements.
Talk Yourself Through It
Sometimes calling a friend is not an option. If this is the case, talking to yourself can be the next best thing to avoid a complete meltdown. It’s OK to act a bit crazy, just tell yourself why you’re stressed out, what you have to do to complete the task at hand, and most importantly, that everything will be okay. In the end, it will all work out and everything will be just fine.
Watch this great fight or flight response video and learn how the process works inside of our brain.
Remember, if stress is taking over your life then understand that it’s just a natural part of human history that has evolved within you. Once you have learned about the fight or flight response and ways to deal with it then stress and anxiety can become a worry of the past.